BC's final shot a fitting end

February 06, 2010 - 3:01 pm
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Boston College really had no business being in a one-possession game as the final seconds ticked off Saturday at Conte Forum. Duke had outplayed the Eagles, and the Blue Devils had controlled the boards by rotating a trio of 6-foot-10 players (Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee) in and out of the frontcourt along with 7-1 Brian Zoubek and 6-8 swingmen Kyle Singler and Lance Thomas. The Eagles have one player taller than 6-8: Josh Southern (6-10), who played just 11 minutes. But BC's smaller players crashed the boards hard and narrowed the rebounding deficit to four by game's end. And the Eagles, down 10 points with 3:49 remaining and seemingly on the cusp of letting the game slip away, gamely battled back, to the point where they had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. However, a 3-pointer by Joe Trapani '€” under pressure from the taller Zoubek '€” was off the mark, and the Eagles fell, 66-63. Duke helped BC's comeback by missing free throws, misfiring uncontested 3-pointers and failing to convert a couple of inside baskets. "Offensively, we left a lot of points on the court," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Up until the last four free throws [by Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer in the game's final 26 seconds] we were 11-for-22. That's not very good, just in case you don't have your calculator. That's not really good. And we left a lot of points on the floor inside. I really thought we played well and didn't score. I thought they played well. I thought we played better. And we played better than the score." Krzyzewski sensed his team was leaving the door open for the Eagles, but he wasn't unhappy with the Devils' effort. Said Krzyzewski: "[After the game] I was telling our athletic director, Kevin White, I said it felt like a baseball manager. You're up 2-1, bottom of the sixth, second and third, nobody out, you don't score. Bottom of the seventh, bases loaded, nobody out, you don't score. All of a sudden you get to the eighth and ninth inning, it's still 2-1. And that's what happened in that ballgame. When we had that 10-point lead, we went to the line a lot, we had a couple of inside things that [we] didn't score on. That's why I'm proud of my guys, [because] they had the toughness at the end to still win. They inbounded the ball well, we never turned it over against the press, and then Nolan and Jon hit four big free throws. And then Zoubek made the play of the game in closing out on Trapani and taking him off the 3 where he had to put the ball on the floor because obviously he's a heck of a shooter. So, for Brian to do that '€” we made winning plays to win. I just felt that we played better than the score." On the final play, the Eagles had Reggie Jackson bring the ball up the court with 11 seconds left, following two free throws by Scheyer. On the Eagles' previous possession, Jackson delivered a high-arching trey from well beyond the top of the 3-point line to draw BC within a point and send the crowd of 8,606 into a frenzy. This time, Duke double-teamed the sophomore right after he crossed the midcourt line. Said Krzyzewski: "We didn't want Jackson to take the last shot. Let's put it that way. That kid's really good. Not that the other kids aren't. We didn't want Jackson to take the shot. And we didn't want to foul because we had a 3-point [lead] and we think we can defend it, and Zoubek did." Jackson dribbled to the right, in front of the BC bench, as he tried to escape. But he could not free himself. Meanwhile, Trapani had come open at the top left. He waved his hand, but by the time Jackson found him, Zoubek found him as well. "Ryan [Kelly] got switched off or something, he got screened, and I saw Trapani wide open," Zoubek said. "And that's the last thing you want to see when you're only up three with a couple of seconds left. So, I had to get out there. I gave him a little trouble. He had to pump-fake and take one dribble and then an off-balance shot." Trapani's heave, just before the buzzer sounded, never had a chance. It hit the outside front right part of the rim and bounced harmlessly away. "As soon as he shot it, I was like, 'There's not a good chance of that going in,' because he was off to the side and fading away," Zoubek said. "And if he made it, then good for him, because it was a tough shot." Said Krzyzewski: "Brian has played really well. What he just did -- we have a close-out drill where it doesn't make any difference who you are, a perimeter or big guy, if you see a shooter, you have to have a sense of urgency. He had the sense of urgency of a senior. ... That's a big-time play. A big-time play."
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